Gabriel is written by C. K. Riley, colored by Branko Jovanovic, and lettered by Lucas Gattoni. It is a story that appears sweeping, with grandiose characters working on a large scale. But it is deceptively simple – at least on the surface. History seeps through the story, specifically that of the ancient pantheons of gods. The story depicts the titular character, the Archangel Gabriel, as a Canaanite angel pre-modern Judaism. He serves the head of the Canaan pantheon, El.
The story begins with a battle between the Celtic gods, before introducing El – an old benevolent leader unlike his son Yahweh who wishes to usurp him. Despite Yahweh’s attempts to turn Gabriel, he remains loyal to El. A war in heaven leads to the downfall of El, his pantheon, and his angels—all except for Gabriel. El tasks Gabriel with enlisting the other pantheons in stopping Yahweh.
Gabriel #2 concerns the Norse pantheon. They test him and bring him to Valhalla, where Odin speaks to him of reincarnation. Frigg tells a story about the three children of Odin. Gabriel receives a warning that the world will end—which is inevitable—before the world is reborn. It is Gabriel’s task to make sure the new world remembers the old. They send him off to the other great pantheons. In Ireland, the Morrigan of the Celtic gods vows to speak with Yahweh and Gabriel.
The hard-edged art style is in black and white, showing everything in hyper detail and forcing the viewer’s eyes to look through every part of the page in order to catch it all. It’s intricate without being distracting, and the decision to not add color is an interesting one. Color would make the characters of the different pantheons even more distinct while enhance the backgrounds further. But perhaps the style’s uniformity of color is the point. It gives the story and characters a gritty feeling. Despite their differences, each pantheon acknowledges that the coming storm Yahweh has instigated will sweep them all away.
Remembrance, family, and mortality figure into the plot. Though he is an Archangel, Gabriel desires to have a family of his own. Gabriel will receive mortality and a family, knowledge he has to contend with in the first two issues. He learns his family will be taken from him, and he struggles with the fear and uncertainty which mortality brings. Quiet moments drive the story, even though the comic deals with mythical characters. These moments accept that change is inevitable, no matter how earth-shattering; life is subject to alteration at any moment. The strong will fall, and the new will rise in their place. Not even the gods can live forever.
A crucial part of Gabriel is the concept of memory. Remembrance is the true key to immortality. Because a concept planted in the mind and heart of a person will never die. The people may forget their gods and the shape of the world they once worshipped, but the ideas their gods represent are immortal. People are more than what they worship. They are the ground they stand on; memory bakes into the land itself. And although Gabriel suggests that the coming storm will sweep away the land too, as long as there are people to remember, life goes on.